IBM Joins Google, Microsoft In Cloud Productivity War

IBM is looking to flex its cloud muscle against rivals Google and Microsoft with a cloud-based productivity and collaboration play that pits the three tech titans against each other for cloud dominance.

Dubbed IBM Docs, Big Blue's new cloud productivity offering, which IBM unveiled in a brief video, includes a word processing application, spreadsheets and slide presentation software. IBM Docs is tied into IBM's SmartCloud for Social Business suite, which is the new moniker bestowed upon IBM LotusLive.

IBM Docs puts IBM in a three-way battle for cloud productivity as it squares off in the cloud against Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365. According to IBM, IBM Docs is now in beta and will be available this year.

[Related: Cloud Providers Locked And Loaded For Social Revolution]

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"IBM Docs allows organizations, both inside and outside the firewall, to simultaneously collaborate on word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents in the cloud to improve productivity," IBM said in a statement. "IBM Docs authors will be able to store and share documents in IBM SmartCloud, co-edit documents in real time or assign users sections of the document so they can work privately easing the management of multiple revisions from multiple authors in team-based documents."

But cloud solution providers said it's too soon to tell whether IBM Docs will shake up the market, but it does validate that the cloud market is growing and desktop software is on its way out.

"Whether or not IBM Docs is a threat to Google Docs remains to be seen; they have a long way to go before reaching the mainstream mindshare and market share already achieved by Google," said Michael Cohn, founder and senior vice president of marketing for Atlanta-based Cloud Sherpas, a major Google cloud provider. "That said, IBM is a smart company. To see them enter the cloud productivity space is another clear indication that the days of desktop software are numbered."

Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a Westborough, Mass.-based cloud solution provider said IBM Docs is a logical extension of LotusLive as IBM looks to stem declining market share. Though he hasn't yet gotten a real feel for IBM Docs, Falcon added that "Lotus has long-enough been an also-ran in this space, so it will be interesting to see if IBM can gain traction."

IBM Docs comes as part of a sweeping cloud and social assault that IBM has planned in the new year. And at the heart of it is the ability to apply data analytics to social and cloud initiatives.

Along with access to IBM Docs, IBM SmartCloud for Social Business offers single-click access to social networking, file sharing, online meetings, e-mail, calendar and instant messaging to enable internal and external collaboration.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based tech giant also rallied around the new social revolution with the beta of the next release of its enterprise social networking platform, IBM Connections which offers wikis, blogs and activities for collaboration while also offering access to e-mail, calendar and business tasks from the social networking platform. The landing page in Connections offers a single point for users to view and interact with content from a third party along with their company's content.

IBM also launched IBM Connections Enterprise Content Edition, which is an integrated social content management solution combining social networking with enterprise content management, compliance and control.

"There is boundless opportunity for social business to transform how we connect people and processes, and increase the speed and flexibility of business," said Alistair Rennie, general manager of IBM's Social Business unit, in a statement. "A successful social business can break down barriers to collaboration and put social networking in the context of everyday work, from the device or delivery vehicle of your choice, to improve productivity and speed decision-making."